Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last Days on Santo

I get another chance today to put another post in before leaving for Vila. Thanks again for praying. Today we brought the Richards into town to Luganville for some air conditioned rest and respite for Gwenyth. She's been covered in heat rash since we've been here and the last few nights is somehow getting covered in some kind of bite. We aren't sure if it is mosquito or ant but she's been pretty miserable. They decided not to risk infection of them and just came into town for tonight and tomorrow night. (Here is my infected mosquito bite so you can see what they can do. The blue dots are where it swelled out to, which is called cellulitus.) One of the staff guys here found out this AM that he has malaria so we are being very careful with mosquitoes, especially for the kids.

The rest of us are just doing our own thing for today. We had a big meeting this AM with some missionaries here that was very pivotal for our being able to get in country. This is us just before the meeting (minus me, the picture taker). Praise God, it went very well so we are just recuperating from that. When we go back to Port Vila (on Efate island) on Monday we'll be preparing our documents for obtaining visas.

Below are some pictures of some of the things we've been doing here:
1. The market (where you can buy amazing fresh fruit and vegetables very cheaply).
2. One of part of the bush village Ipayato that we visited. (it's Jesiah, me, and Gretchen here)
3. Housing for many people here.

It has been a pretty amazing experience. I'll be getting pictures from all my teammates so I can show you some of what we did and more of the bush village experience. I need to get off of here though so I don't rack up too much of a bill for my time. Maybe I'll be able to get on again in Vila on Monday. Please pray for continued health and safety for all of us. Praise God with us that we seem to be able to move forward with coming into the country now!
Blessings to you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A short one from Santo

Hello everyone! I hope you'll forgive me and check my blog rather than e-mail. I have access at the moment but it is 25 cents a minute and I have very limited time. Things are going very well especially due to your prayers, thank you! There have been plenty of opportunities for very scary things to happen but the Lord has protected us. I'm sorry I can't load pictures here, I have so many amazing ones! Some of the highlights your prayers have helped with:
1. the kids are doing very well (they hate the heat and are often crabby, but are not sick)
2. I have 3 sores on my legs and feet that are infected and yesterday I had a fever from it and my leg was swelling really huge. Today it is much better but this is the sort of thing the nurse said people in the bush die from in just a few days because they don't take care of it. I still need to heal up but I am on the mend.
3. This AM at 5 a cyclone was projected to hit (the first in 7 years I guess). We had lots of trees knocked down and lots of wind and rain, but it passed by us, praise the Lord!
4. On the way back from a bush village a few days ago, 2 of the guys (Brad and Steve) were knocked out of the truck (the roads are pretty much potholes with a very few areas of flat). They got scratched up and bruised, but are ok.
5. The guys are all on Malakula island right now (south of where we are on Santo island). We are praying they were ok with the cyclone but they are to fly back tomorrow so we'll see then.
6. The food is amazing!
7. The people are awesome and very friendly! We have seen a bush village and survived the amazing culture shock of that - wow. Camping seems so immaculately clean compared to that experience.
8. I love Vanuatu! We have a lot we are going to do still but I am soaking this up. You'll all have to come experience it by visiting me in Vanuatu in the future when I can speak Bislama. It is very frustrating not knowing the language. I've had some chances to practice my pathetic French though, so that's been fun.

Ok, I have to run. If I am able, I'll try to post pictures later this week before we head back to Port Vila. God bless and thanks again for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The trip begins in LA!

The survey trip has officially begun! My family got to my house Friday night and we hung out and ran errands that day and the next before flying out Sunday for LA. Gretchen's high school friend JJ and her husband, Chris, graciously hosted us at their apartment and a guest apartment on the Fuller Theological Seminary campus (where Chris is going to school). To the left here is my nephew, Jesiah, contemplating life at a fountain on campus. We have mostly just been hanging out here but we did get some hook-ups at the last minute (like finding out this morning that we need sheets in Vanuatu at the camp we are staying at in Luganville up on the island of Sant0). It has been relaxing to be here, but is somewhat frustrating to be all ready to go but just have to wait. We leave for the airport in a few hours though to begin the real journey!

One really awesome thing for me just today was that I got to visit for several hours with my friend Stephanie, who was my roommate at Bible school up in central Montana (the link to this school is off to the right). I haven't seen her since graduation there in 1998 so it has been a long time! Here is a picture of us: She lives south of here about an hour and a half so she made the trek up to see me and showed me her wedding pictures from her wedding just this last year.

Tonight we head out to the airport and then on to Fiji. Please pray for the kids - Jesiah and Gwenyth - as they have NOT been happy campers on this trip so far. They've been troopers but there have been a lot of tears and screams. :) Thanks or praying and staying up-to-date! I'll try to do the same! :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Itinerary update

Well, it looks like we are switching things up again in our itinerary (the lizard is supposed to stand for change...I know, kind of random). This will make for a bit of a cheaper trip for me, which is awesome, but a bummer to leave out some parts of the trip too. Here is the proposed change:

Thurs-Fri, March 22-23 Stay in Vila with SIL

Sat., March 24 Fly to Espiritu Santo island (to the town of Luganville) NOT going to Malakula island in between. Stay on Santo until Sunday, April 1 when we fly back to Port Vila on Efate island. The reason there isn't a stop now in Malakula is that accommodations weren't firming up and having a 2 year old, a baby, 2 women, and an old guy with a bad leg :) (that would be my dad) was making this very remote area not the greatest place to show up with iffy accommodations, possible transportation lack, and greater cultural differences. The guys are hoping to fly over for a few days at some point when the rest of us stay on Santo so it may still work out for them, but it most likely won't be a whole-team effort. There will be plenty of opportunities for further survey on Malakula if the Lord allows us all back to live in the country next year and begin ministry based out of Luganville.

Sunday, April 1 Fly back to Vila and take care of visa "stuff".

Tuesday, April 3 Fly to Fiji and then on to Los Angeles, to arrive back home that night!
So in a week or two, I'll be eating breadfruit, flying fox, taro, and noni fruit. Here are the pictures of those things. Just kidding, I have no idea what I'll be eating, but these are all eaten there so who knows...

Thanks to all of you who have supported me. I only have a few hundred more I need to cover things and then the trip will be totally paid, praise God! Please pray for God's wisdom and direction about my ministry in Vanuatu, for connections with officials and opportunities to begin relationships with the people (the Ni-Vanuatu) there, for health and safety, and especially for calm and happy kids (the 2 year old and 6 month old nephew and niece of mine who are coming). Thanks so much!! I hope to keep updates coming on here during the trip but I don't know what my access to internet will be once in Vanuatu. If nothing else, I can meet with all of you and show you pictures after the trip, Lord willing!